Tag Archives: bread

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Green Apple

As summer is creeping back in, we’re looking for easier dinners.  You know, one’s that don’t require tons of steps, or a million dishes.  We want something that has lots of flavor, but is simple and tasty.   And since it’s still that transition between spring and summer, we figured it’s not overly hot just yet, and turning on an oven is doable.

One beautiful Sunday afternoon, as we were wanting a lighter dinner- so we threw together some bacon and brussels sprouts.  We paired it up with a focaccia bread, and we had an easy meal.  I had made the dough from scratch earlier in the day, but you can always use a fresh baguette, or make something else.

What’s everyone’s preference for summer meals?  Would love to hear some new ideas!

Balsamic Brussel Sprouts with Bacon & Green Apple

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Green Apple
Fifth Floor Kitchen original

1 lb bacon
1 1/2 lb brussels sprouts
1 green apple, cored & chopped into 1 inch cubes
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
1-3 tsp Balsamic Vinegar

Cook the bacon strips in a hot skillet until they are crispy.  Allow the bacon to cool, then chop into smaller pieces.

Preheat the oven to 420ºF.

Then on a cookie sheet, spread out the brussels sprouts, cooked bacon, apple, salt, pepper, red pepper.  Over everything pour the cooled bacon fat.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the brussels sprouts are cooked to your liking (shorter time, they will cruchier).

Once the brussels sprouts are out out of the oven, divide it up on plates.  Then sprinkle a little (about a tsp) of balsamic over each plate.

Sausage, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Casserole

As I’ve mentioned before, Sam and I do a lot of running.  Currently, we’re training for the Rock ‘n Roll USA Half Marathon, which is held in DC in March!  Are any of you running it?  I would love to see some bloggers and readers out there!

For me, the hardest part about training for distance races (halfs, fulls, etc) is providing your body with enough nutrition and energy.  Specifically, the day you do your long run- ours tend to be Saturdays.  What can you eat after a run during which you’ve burned over 1,000 calories?  A burger definitely hits the spot, but I some mornings all I want are eggs.

A couple of weeks ago, I was perusing my Google Reader and I saw the perfect post-long run breakfast dish.  It was from Liza, of (a)Musing Foodie- a fellow blogger I met at the Eat, Write, Retreat Food Blog Conference.  The best part was, it’s a dish you put together the night before, and just pop it into the oven in the morning.

Sausage, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Casserole

Even if you don’t have a long run planned for this Saturday, this is a perfect dish for your brunch guests.  Easy, delicious and very versatile!

Sausage, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Casserole

Sausage, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Casserole
Adapted from: (a)Musing Foodie

Liza used a baguette, I did not have one on hand- so I used leftover whole-wheat bread from Trader Joe’s that had flaxseeds and sunflowers seeds in it.  Feel free to use what you have in your bread box!  Additionally, use any type of milk product for the 2 1/2 cups of liquid (regular milk, soy milk, almond milk, etc)- I ran out of the soy milk so I substituted the rest with the half ‘n half.

2 cups of bread, cubed
6 slices of bacon
1 large onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño, chopped (optional)
1 lb Polish sausage, cut into small pieces
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
10 large eggs
2 cups soy milk
1/2 cup half ‘n half
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Spray a 9×13” baking dish with cooking spray. Then spread the bread cubes on the bottom of the baking dish.

Heat up a large skillet, place the bacon on it and heat it up until crispy on both sides.  Set aside on a paper towel, but leave the bacon grease in the pan.  Then add in the onion, let it cook until translucent over medium heat, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and jalapeño, cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Next, add in the sausage and cook for about 5-10 minutes, until it begins to brown.  Add all of these ingredients into a large bowl.

Once the bacon has cooled off, chop it up and add it to the bowl.  Then mix in cheese, spinach, and green onions.  Once the meats and vegetables are mixed, spread this out over the bread cubes in the baking dish.

Next, in a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, soy milk, half and half, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.  Then pour this mixture over the layers in the casserole dish, and gently press down so the liquid drips down.

Cover the casserole, and let it sit overnight in the fridge.

Once you’re ready to cook it, preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Bake the casserole covered with aluminum foil for 45 minutes.  Then uncover it, and bake it for another 15 minutes when it starts to bubble.

Let it rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Garlicky Focaccia Bread

Although in the past I have been intimidated and scared of yeast,  I think I am completely over it.  After a couple of trials and some winning recipes (whole wheat pizza, wheat bread, peasant bread, whole wheat pitas, mostly whole wheat bread, and dinner rolls) I’m definitely feeling confident.  So don’t be afraid and make some bread from scratch today!

Focaccia is not my go-to bread, but when I saw a recipe posted by A Couple Cooks, it looked so delicious!  I had to make it right away.  This dough was great, and I can’t wait to make different variations- adding eggplant, onions, or topping it off with some meat.

I ended up cutting it up into smaller pieces, this way we could eat some with a salad, or with morning eggs.  Otherwise, use this when making a sandwich or when you just need a snack.

I hope the heat wave has ended for everyone so you all can turn on your ovens this week to make this.  Definitely something great- and I’d love to hear what other variations are out there that everyone enjoys!

Garlicky Focaccia Bread
Adapted from: A Couple Cooks

2 cups warm water
2 tsp dry yeast
2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil + more for bowl and drizzling
1 tsp honey
8 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (mixture of thyme and oregano)
1 tbsp sea salt

In a stand mixer bowl mix together the warm water and yeast.  Allow it to stand for a couple of at least 10 minutes.  Then add in 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, salt, olive oil and honey.  Using a dough hook, mix the ingredients together.  On a low speed, mix the dough for about 10 minutes.  Every couple of minutes add in the remaining all-purpose flour (1/2 cup).  At the end it should turn into a ball.

Place the ball of dough into an oiled bowl.  Cover with a towel, and leave it for at least 1 1/2 hours or until it doubles in size.

Spray a 9×13′ baking dish with cooking oil.  Preheat the oven to 475ºF.

Punch down the dough into the bowl, and knead it for another 2-3 minutes.  Then spread the dough into the baking dish.  Allow it to rise for another 30 minutes.

Once the dough is ready, drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil over the top of the bread.  Then sprinkle the garlic, herbs and sea salt on top.  With a finger, make small indentations into the dough- about 1/2 inch thick and about 1/2 inch apart.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned.

Book Club: Spinach & Artichoke Dip

I hosted my Book Club at our house last week, there were 8 of us here to talk about The Corrections, and catch up on what’s going on in our lives.  Check out what else was on the Book Club menu!

Sam and I really enjoy sharing meals with our friends and family, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon or evening.  Of course, when your guests arrive they need something to nibble on before everyone eases into the meal you will be eating.  There are some great appetizers our there: chips & salsa, hummus, tomatoes with mozzarella, or roasted mushrooms.

I wanted something a little different, a dish that would linger on the table longer.  Our book club tends to straggle in as everyone is finished with work, and we all have vastly different schedules.  Instead, I opted for spinach and artichoke dip- it’s everyone’s favorite.  I figured it’d go well with my “all-american” theme- what restaurant in the U.S. doesn’t have this on their menu?

I put out Peasant Bread and fresh veggies with this dip.  To make the plate colorful (which I forgot to take a picture of!) I had red bell peppers, yellow bell peppers, cucumbers and celery.

Everyone seemed to like it, since there was barely any left!  This dip was easy and can be done a day or two ahead of time- perfect for a busy host or hostess!

Spinach & Artichoke Dip
Adapted from: Dashing Dish

1/4 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
10 oz spinach, chopped (fresh or defrosted and dried)
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
14 oz can artichokes, drained & chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Heat olive oil in a pan, when it’s warm add the onion.  Cook the onion for about 5 minutes, until it is translucent.  Add the garlic, and cook for a couple of minutes.  Then add spinach and cook until is heated through (about 3-5 min).  Next, add in the cream cheese, stirring frequently until it is melted.  Lastly, stir in the sour cream, Parmesan cheese, artichokes, salt and pepper.

Transfer the dip into a oven-safe dish.

Preheat the oven to 35oºF.  Bake the dip for about 10-15 minutes, until the top begins to lightly brown.

Serve with: peasant bread, pita bread, peppers, cucumbers or celery

Peasant Bread

I love fresh, warm bread.  The kind that is crusty on the outside, and soft inside.  Pair that up with some fresh bruschetta, or butter- and I have dinner.  Or it can be a perfect addition to a salad or soup dinner.

In the past couple of months I have conquered my fear of yeast.  If you’d like proof then check out the Mostly-Whole Wheat Bread, Apple & Smoked Cheese Whole Wheat Pizza, and Whole Wheat Pitas.  Last week’s Food Matters Project was bruschetta, and I needed a vehicle for all that deliciousness.  So I attempted bread.  What did I learn?  I never want to buy bread from the store again!

It looks gorgeous, and I am so proud of it!  If I have succeeded, all of you can make it.  Fortunately, this recipe does not require an overnight rising period- that is way too long to wait (although that might be due to my lack of planning).  This is perfect to throw together right before you leave for work (or the night before), let the yeast work its magic and all you have to do is pop it in the oven when you get home.  Fresh bread for dinner!

Peasant Bread
Adapted from: Hide the Cheese

This recipe makes 2 larger loaves.  I made a loaf the first day, and covered and refrigerated the other half.  It should last about a week in the fridge.  Take it out of the fridge as you’re heating up the oven, and continue with the baking instructions below.  The original recipe used 2 cups of whole-wheat flour, and 4 1/2 of all-purpose.  I did not have the whole-wheat flour, so I improvised.

1 tbsp + 2 tsp yeast
1 tbsp + 2 tsp salt
3 cups warm water
1 tbsp honey
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp olive oil

Mix the yeast, salt, water and honey in a large bowl.  Stir with a spoon until the yeast and honey dissolve completely.  Then add the flour, continue mixing until it is fully incorporated with the wet ingredients.

(optional) Coat a large bowl with olive oil.  If you don’t have an additional large bowl, just move parts of the dough to add some of the olive oil under it.  This is not necessary, but does make it easier to take out the dough from the bowl after it has risen.

Cover the dough with a dish towel and allow it rest for at least 2 hours (although the longer the better).

After the dough has risen, take half of it out (the other half can be stored in the fridge) onto a floured surface.  Shape it into a ball, or any shape you’d like.

Preheat the oven to 450ºF.  As you turn on the oven, put the dutch oven (or corningware) into the oven at the same time.  When the oven reaches 450ºF, take out the dutch oven and place the dough inside.  Cover and bake for 30 minutes.  Then cook for another 15 minutes, uncovered, or until the top is a light brown.

Take out the bread from the oven, and allow it to cool off on a wire rack.  Enjoy it fresh!